As I wrote last year, I have very mixed feelings about seeing Liberal Democrat colleagues in honours lists. Many are great people who have done great work, both inside party politics and outside it too – and it’s worth remembering that nearly all political roles pay very little, if anything, for all the time involved.And yet… compared to those who put their lives physically at risk every day in a public service, or those whose jobs involves quite remarkable extremes of physical or mental punishment to fulfilling their tasks, being a politician in the UK is – thankfully – for nearly everyone, nearly all the time a pretty tame affair by comparison. It’s also one where success for a frontline politician brings plenty of public acknowledgement already.
There are many other, mostly unknown, better recipients of a system designed to give public thanks on people for their achievements.
So congratulations to the following Liberal Democrats, but I hope they don’t mind if I wonder who out there I haven’t heard of who would have been even better recipients.
- Reg Barry, Isle of Wight councillor – a BEM for services to the community.
- Nick Clegg, former party leader – a knighthood for political and public services (and it is worth adding, given how many mistaken comments I’ve seen about this, that doesn’t mean he gets a seat in the Lords; he’d already made clear he didn’t want a peerage which would have done).
- Graham Garvie, former Tweeddale and then Scottish Borders Council councillor and Convenor – an OBE for services to local government and the community.
- Ian Marks, Lymm Parish and former Warrington councillor and leader of the council – an MBE for services to the community (and apologies for omitting you initially from the list Ian).
- Ann Reid, York councillor – an MBE for services to local government.
- Elizabeth Riches, former councillor and Parliamentary candidate in North East Fife (missing out by just two votes) – an MBE for political and public services.
- Jo Swinson, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats – a CBE for political and public services. I like the recognition of the role of voters in her response: “I’m delighted my work has been recognised in this way. It wouldn’t be possible without the support of my constituents, whom I’d like to thank for giving me the opportunity to serve as their MP once more.”
Those interested in politics might also be interested in the news that the prince, king, emperor and all high sultan of exit polling and social science market research, John Curtice, has got a very well-deserved knighthood for services to politics and social science. His work on social science research is invaluable in helping to create high quality data series which so many others rely on so heavily.